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Zimbabwe Opposition Puts Positive Spin On Southern African Summit


Having censured the outcome of a Southern African Development Community summit last week that seemed to comfort President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's opposition Monday repositioned to spin the summit as a tacit regional criticism of Mr. Mugabe.

Opposition leaders last week labeled as "dishonest" the summit communique, which named South African President Thabo Mbeki a mediator in the crisis, urged dialogue in Harare and urged the West to lift sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle.

But MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai and rival MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara Monday portrayed the SADC summit in a more positive light, saying that the very fact that the regional body saw the need for an extraordinary summit to address the crisis in Zimbabwe signaled how deep the political and economic crisis has become.

Tsvangirai told reporters in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was seeing doctors for a possible skull fracture caused by beatings while in police custody in March, that the summit was quote “a positive step.” He said he had “no doubt” that South African President Thabo Mbeki, named mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis, would use all of the authority invested in him by the regional grouping to resolve the crisis.

Tsvangirai declared that he saw a “new initiative emerging, which was not driven by South Africa, as has been the case in recent years, but by the entire region.

The MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara also chose to look at the SADC glass as half full. In a Harare news conference Monday attended by diplomats as well as journalists, Mutambara applauded the regional body for acknowledging the national crisis.

He said Mr. Mugabe was deceiving Zimbabweans in claiming SADC backed him up.

Elsewhere, Mutambara pledged his support for the stay-away or general strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions for Tuesday and Wednesday, and said his faction’s campaign of defiance or civil disobedience would continue.

Mutambara expanded on his position regarding the SADC summit and his strategy in an interview with reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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